Ethnic Violence and the Societal Security Dilemma

By Paul Roe | Go to book overview

8

Transylvania and the societal security dilemma

The central problem with the history of Transylvania is that there are separate Romanian and Hungarian histories, both firmly articulated and neither acceptable in its national version to the other….

[N]either Romanian nor Hungarian nationalists can accept that Transylvania should be a part of the other state's territory and both accept a nationalist imperative that it should belong to them. In this kind of emotionally charged atmosphere, the rights of minorities are easily ignored, and, indeed, their articulation may be treated as evidence of irredentism. 1

In the last chapter, I described the Hungarian-Romanian struggle for sovereignty over Transylvania, and, in particular, the maintenance of national identity in the region as the main source of enmity between the two parties. Following the overthrow of Romania's dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, in December 1989, historical narratives concerning the struggle for Transylvania - employed on both the Hungarian 2 and Romanian sides - came to frame questions over the reorganisation of educational establishments in the region. More than anything, the issue of educational reform set in motion an escalatory dynamic, culminating in what became the first significant outburst of ethnic violence in post-communist Eastern Europe. As with Chapter 6, the purpose of this chapter is to determine whether this dynamic can profitably be described in terms of a tight, regular, or loose societal security dilemma.

As with the application of the concept in Krajina, the time-scale in this particular case is also crucial. Here, events take place within just a four-month period, from the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime on 23 December 1989 to the outbreak of hostilities between the two parties in the Transylvanian city of Tirgu Mures on 20 March 1990.

The overall structure of the chapter follows that of Chapter 6. The first section is largely descriptive, providing an overview of events in the given time period. The second section lays out Hungarian societal security requirements, as set out mainly by the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania

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